I told an acquaintance that I had been painting this summer in preparation for an art fair this month. His response surprised me: “I prefer art that is painted from the heart.” His implication didn’t register with me for a moment when I said, “Me, too.” He went on to ask me if I thought artists need to make money. I said, “Everyone needs to make money.” We softly debated (we were at a child’s birthday party, after all) and parted still on good terms, but the conversation had me thinking that more people than I think still have a mythic idea about what it is to be an artist.
Every single person who paints/sculpts/draws/builds/etc. has a hard time calling herself an artist because of how loaded with history and drama the word is. I read that my favorite living artist, Wayne Thiebaud, never liked the word because he doesn’t think he deserves the same title given to the great Rembrandt. (He prefers being called a painter.) I like “painter,” too—it’s specific—but it’s time for artists and nonartists to get over the old, old, artist legends that still dominate public opinion.
I listened to a funny and spot-on podcast episode called “Kill the Genius” (Art Opening(s), May 24, 2018) with Courtney Jordan and Samantha Sanders. They compiled a list of four types of art genius archetypes that hold back the average person from understanding that it is people like them—average—who make art. The two hosts tore apart the list by getting to the heart of each legend. It was inspiring. I’m not going to say Michelangelo was just like me, but that man went to great lengths to control his image, too. AND, he wanted to get paid. And moreover, he knew that the former would influence the latter. $$$$$$
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
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